Vanisle_BC
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Bees, flowers, pollination

Is there any low-maintenance, bee-attractive lazy-man's flower seed I could scatter that would have a chance of thriving? I'm in a temperate southern coastal (northern if you're in the US) 'rainforest' climate, and beginning to feel guilty about growing edibles almost exclusively and neglecting to plant bee-friendly flowers. I don't want to give much flower-space in my raised veggie beds but I could contemplate a wildflower meadow kind of project. Unfortunately the available area is moss-infested grass, (I do NOT grow a lawn) on a thin layer of topsoil over clay. Suggestions?

We have lavender plants that are usually alive with the noise of bees in season but last year were left almost completely alone; no bees.
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Vanisle_BC
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

I 'host' mason bees but my plum tree (Santa Rosa) often blossoms 2 weeks or more before they emerge. There seems to be a shortage of honey bees too. I don't know what I could do to ensure the plum blossoms get well pollinated (by insects, not myself.)

By the way the tree is dying - several main branches already dead - but there's a thicket of 'suckers.' I don't know whether the tree is on its own root or grafted - or what I'll get from the suckers if they bear fruit.
"The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior." H. D.Thoreau. (Me too.)

thanrose
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Have you ever gone to UBC's Botanic Garden? They have a website and a botany forum. Most of the participants are either affiliated with the university or Botanic Garden, or live in the western coastal US and Canada, with of course the preponderance from Vancouver. There are people from all over the world and from all levels of interest in botany and horticulture. Although binomial nomenclature does scare some folks off. Anyhow, I'd bet the Botanic Garden has a gift shop, or maybe a helpline that could give you a more specific list of what you could plant.

I'd hesitate to recommend any specific plants since I am about as far from your position on this continent as I can be. However, common bedding plants like marigolds, coleus, zinnias, salvias, and celosia would be easy to find in seed or in flats.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

nodding onion, yarrow, and woolly sunflower are a couple of native plants for your area that should be easy and hardy.

You could think about planting a couple flowering shrubs. It is a little more expensive to get started versus planting flower seed, but you plant it once and then you are done. Choices for you would include kinnikinnick (bear berry), oregon holly grape, red flowering currant.
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imafan26
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Pollinator.org is a good resource for finding best plants for pollinators. It emphasizes using native plants which should be best adapted to your zone and if you are in the right place, natives should be easy to grow and once established, they should thrive.

This is not always the case, especially in Hawaii where bees, plants, and animals commonly found in urban areas are not native.

http://pollinator.org/guides
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SQWIB
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

A few that I see a lot of activity on by the bees are Bee Balm, Oregano, Thyme to name a few

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jal_ut
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

You say "No bees"? and "Shortage of honey bees"? Get the book "The Hive and the Honey Bee" by Dadant and do some reading. Also "ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture" by A. I. Root is a good book. Once you have read one of these excellent books on the subject of beekeeping you will be better able to observe and judge what is really happening with the bees. I might suggest you get some honey bees?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

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jal_ut
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

I am a beekeeper. I am not a large company, but at present there are 29 colonies on my lot. It is hard to winter bees in this high mountain desert area and most generally the bees die during winter, so we buy package bees in the spring. A package will have about 2.5 pounds of bees and a mated queen in her separate cage. The bees we get have usually spent the winter in California, those with orchards pay the beekeeper to bring the bees in for pollination, but when the trees are done blooming, nothing left for the bees, so the bees are shipped to Utah where they can gather nectar from clover and make honey.
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imafan26
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

The flowers that bees in my area like are anything in the daisy family cosmos, sunflowers. They also like pentas (they can only reach the pollen, long tongued bees and butterflies can reach the deep nectar), lavender, false heather, lantana, herbs in bloom like sage, basil, fennel, onions, cilantro, corn tassels (they like the pollen), vervain, verbena, single zinnias, bee balm, calendula and marigolds. They cannot see the color red. They like flowers that are small and have a landing pad and sweet fragrance. Roses, orchids, foxglove, snapdragon, fruit and nut trees, borage, echinacea. They also like cover crops like buckwheat and clover. Squash, pumpkins, cucumbers are pollinated by squash bees. You want to provide flowers that bloom for a long time and provide habitat as in bee houses for solitary bees, trees and shrubs for shelter.

Many of the plants that bees like are self seeding, so if you don't want them to go to seed, you will have to cut the seed heads off before they disperse. I take out fennel every year and start over. I do let nasturtiums, perilla and basil reseed. They are not that hard to kill. Vervain and milkweeds, I took out of the garden because they are aggressive and they are hard to get rid of. I plant a variety of lantana that is seedless so it provides nectar without pollen. The bees come for the tassels of corn and if I time it right I can have corn planted for most of the year.

The plants that I get the most visits in my gardens are penta, alyssum, false heather, basil, Jamaican oregano, orchids, roses, citrus trees when they are in bloom, palms in bloom, cilantro, onions in bloom, cosmos, sunflowers, and zinnias. If lettuce and cabbages are allowed to bloom, the bees like them too.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

DarrenP
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Nasturtium and marigold are two hardy flowering plants. Nasturtium are also edible, so there's a bonus there. You could also try the edible chrysanthemum (I forget the name off the top of my head), and calendula, both of which have edible bits. That way you are attracting bees, and still producing for your table.

imafan26
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

The edible chrysanthemum is called shungiku. Nasturtiums pop up every year, I no longer have to plant them, but although the leaves, flowers and seeds are edible, it is a little too peppery for me. The nasturtium flowers are good for decorating plates though.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

I use nasturtium leaves in place of lettuce in sandwiches during the summer after the lettuces have quit due to heat. I love it when the nasturtiums have grown enough to have leaves that cover the entire hamburger or sandwich bread.

Usually by then the big tomatoes are producing, so giant single slab of tomato, and a giant round leaf — both exceeding the edge of the bread — and then it’s a source of amusement to see which is bigger, the tomato or the nasturtium. :lol:
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jal_ut
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Honey bees are an import to the USA. They did pretty well here and some even swarmed and set up housekeeping in the wild in a hole in a rock or a tree. Then along came the varroah mites. Unfortunately without the help of the beekeeper and some mite killing chemicals the mites beat the bees, so you no longer have wild hives that persist.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

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jal_ut
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Quote: "Is there any low-maintenance, bee-attractive lazy-man's flower seed I could scatter that would have a chance of thriving?"

Clover would be a good choice.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

pepperhead212
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Re: Bees, flowers, pollination

Clover (white dutch) is something I planted away from my garden, to attract rabbits, and the bees liked it, too. And the only other nonedible thing that I've planted is Alyssum, which grows close to the ground, and the bees love it. It is in a patch between a neighbor's fence and a row of SIPs, where I was tired of weed wacking the weeds, and the alyssum just took over! I don't know how it would grow in your area, but it does great here. I just have to look and make sure that I don't step on any bees, when I go back there to harvest. Oregano, dill, coriander (I'd prefer that mine didn't flower, but something good comes from it!), and sage are herbs that attract bees in my garden.
Dave

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